Pumpkin Spice Granola (With Chocolate Chunks)

So, last week I had a fabulous time at Hackensack UMC visiting and talking about Diabetes. It is, after all, National Diabetes Month. Of course I brought snacks with me as I am known to do, and this visit I brought home-made pumpkin spice granola! Let me just tell you, granola may not sound like a thrilling snack, but it went fast. People were shocked to hear that there was no cane sugar, no vegetable oil, no artificial sweetener, it was totally vegan and chock full of ingredients that help to fight and reduce risk for diabetes. This granola is so easy to make, but before we get into it I have to throw out a disclaimer. For granola fans out there, you know that a good quality granola is not cheap. Well, neither is this recipe. BUT!!!! It is certainly cheaper than buying granola at the store by the box or bag and once you get the feel for making your own you can get really creative and use ingredients that meet your tastes and nutritional needs. This recipe makes quite a bit but stored in a dry/air-tight container granola has a quite decent shelf life. So, now I know you probably want to get to the recipe already. Let’s get our hands dirty.

About 6 cups of traditional oats (not quick oats, please!)

1/4 cup chia seeds (so good for you and they really do make the granola so filling)

1/4 cup ground flax seeds (can you tell already that this recipe really packs the omega-3 punch?)PicsArt_1384808865476

3 Tbsp hemp seeds

3 Tbsp sesame seeds (gives the granola a great layer of rich, toasty flavor)

1 cup raw unsweetened organic coconut (you can totally leave this out if you like, but I love coconut)

1 cup chopped raw almonds*

1 cup chopped raw walnuts*

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds *

* Use your favorite nuts and seeds here (sunflower seeds, hazlenuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, what have you.)

1 Tbsp cinnamon

1Tbsp Pumpkin Pie spice (which is really just a combination of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and allspice.)

Those are your dry ingredients. So you can see this makes quite a batch! Ok, mix those together in a big bowl… a really big bowl.

In a slightly smaller bowl combine:

3/4 cup coconut oil (melted)

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1/2 cup organic maple syrup

3 Tbsp  black strap molasses

1/4 cup raw organic honey  

Combine these ingredients well and add to dry ingredients. Mix well with wooden spoon. If it’s too dry add 1 Tbsp or so more maple syrup. If you haven’t had a good arm workout yet today, this will certainly do the trick.

Add 1-2 cups of dark chocolate chunks. Now that’s totally optional, but let me tell you, the warm fall flavor of the granola mixed with rich dark chocolate is, well, divine.

Get out your 2 biggest baking pans and lightly grease with coconut oil. Dab a little on a paper towel to easily spread it around. Spread your granola evenly on the pans and stick those bad boys in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 – 35 minutes. You’re looking for a gorgeous golden brown color. Maybe check on your granola after 15-20 minutes and then again every 5 or so to make sure it does not burn. Here’s where you really need to pay attention. Granola is super easy to make but it’s a little finnicky when it comes out of the oven so LEAVE IT ALONE! Yep! Let it cool completely before you take it off the pan. Then and only then, grab a heavy duty metal spatula and scoop your granola from the pan to an air tight container. Now, if you like you can add dried fruit and as much or as little as you like. My sons love dried blueberries and cranberries so that’s what I use most, but I prefer organic raisins. You can use dates, mango apricots, prunes whatever you like! Ok, go ahead and eat some. Now, how’s that for delicious?

I’ve been making granola for my family since my boys were little. They always thought it was a huge treat since it’s sweet and has a little chocolate in it. I was always comfortable giving it to them, though because I knew that there was plenty of protein and plenty of whole grain to help them metabolize the sugars and to keep them full without a sugar spike or crash (something so many children deal with daily.) Preventing diabetes is not about never eating sugars. It’s about not putting your body through sugar highs and lows which cane sugar and processed sugars, even fruit and healthy sweeteners like molasses can do without a healthy amount of protein to back it up. So go ahead and get a little sweet in your life, just keep your body armed with what it needs to digest that sweet.

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So, there you go! I promised a few people that I’d share this recipe. Try it yourself! feel free to adapt it and let me know what works for you! I’m always interested in trying out new techniques.

So go on, go get your fall on and make some healthy, delicious pumpkin spice granola. Mmmm.

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Ooh! One more thing. If you don’t like dry granola, try it with almond milk. I’ll give you my recipe in the next couple months for homemade almond milk which is much easier than you think.

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